Gillian Russell

Philosophy Professor

Phil 502 : Proseminar: History of Analytic Philosophy (Fall 2013)

Course website:
Class Times: Tuesdays 11-1.30pm
Class Location: Wilson Hall, Fireplace room (212)

Instructor: Gillian Russell
Email: grussell – at – artsci – dot – wustl – dot – edu
Office Hours: Thursday 12-1pm or by appointment, Wilson Hall 209

Course Description:

This course will be a broad introduction to some of the central themes and theories of analytic philosophy in the 20th century. It is open to all and only first year graduate students in philosophy and PNP. It will offer many opportunities to develop skills in writing and presenting philosophy.


The two main books for the course will be:

  • Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century: volume 1 : The Dawn of Analysis – Scott Soames (Princeton University Press, 2003)

  • Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century: volume 2: The Age of Meaning – Scott Soames (Princeton University Press, 2003)

Assigned reading each week will include 1-3 chapters from these books, plus some original writings from the subjects of those chapters.
Many of these items are on the ares site for the course, which you can find here:

An exception is Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which we’ll read in full. I’ve put it on 2 hour physical reserve at Olin Library, but you might find it more convenient to buy your own.

Readings and Topics

Week 1 – Introduction

Tuesday 26th August: No pre-assigned reading.

Week 2 – Moore and Common Sense

Tuesday 2nd September: “A Defence of Common Sense" – G.E. Moore
(on ares)
Soames v.1, Ch1 & 2 "Common Sense and Philosophical Analysis"

Week 3 – Russell and Logical Form

Tuesday 9th September: “Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description” – Bertrand Russell
Soames v.1 Ch 5 "Logical Form, Grammatical Form and the Theory of Descriptions"

(I’m inclined to think there is a good chance that you’ve all read Russell’s “On Denoting” before, but if you somehow missed it, it would be a good idea to look at that for this week:

Week 4 – Russell and the External World

Tuesday 16th September: Pages 35-123 of The Philosophy of Logical Atomism – Bertrand Russell
Soames v1 Ch7 & 8 “Logical Constructions and the External World” and “Russell’s Logical Atomism”

Week 5:

Tuesday 23rd September:
No class this week.

Week 6: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Tuesday 30th September:
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus – Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Soames v.1 Chs 9, 10 & 11. "The Metaphysics of the Tractatus," "Meaning, Truth and Logic in the Tractatus" and "The Tractarian Test of Inteligability and its Consequences"

Week 7: Logical Positivism

Tuesday 7th October: “Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology” – Rudolf Carnap
Soames v.1 Chs 12 & 13 "The Logical Positivists on Necessity and A priori Knowledge" and "The Rise and Fall of the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning"

Week 8: Quine’s “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”

Tuesday 14th October: “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” – Willard Van Orman Quine
Soames v.1 Chs 16 & 17 "The analytic and the synthetic, the necessary and the possible, the apriori and the aposteriori," "Meaning and Holistic Verificationism"

Week 9: Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations

Tuesday 21st October:
Sections 1-133, 143-155, 179-202 and 243-315 from the Philosophical Investigations – Ludwig Wittgenstein.
S2 Chs 1 and 2 "Rejection of the Tractarian Conception of Language and Analysis" and "Rule following and the Private Language Argument"

Week 10: Ordinary Language Philosophy

Tuesday 28th October:
"Truth" – Peter F. Strawson
Soames v.2 chapter 5. "Strawson’s Performative Theory of Truth"

Week 11: The End of Ordinary Language Philosophy

Tuesday 4th November: “The Logic and Conversation" – Paul Grice
Soames v.2 Ch 9 "Language Use and the Logic of Conversation"

Week 12: Quine and the Indeterminacy of Translation

Tuesday 11th November: S2, Ch 10. "The Indeterminacy of Translation"
“Translation and Meaning” from Word and Object – W.V.O. Quine.

Week 13: Davidson’s Theory of Meaning

Tuesday 18th November: "Truth and Meaning" – Donald Davidson
Soames v.2 ch 12 “Theories of Truth as Theories of Meaning”

Week 14: Kripke’s Naming and Necessity

Tuesday 25th November: Lectures I and II of Naming and Necessity – Saul Kripke
Soames v.2 chs 14 & 15 "Names, Essence and Possibility" and "The Necessary A priori."

Week 15: Wrap-up Session

Tuesday 2nd December: Reading: "Must do better" from The Philosophy of Philosophy – Timothy Williamson
“Epilogue – The Era of Specialisation” in Soames v2.


A major goal of the proseminar is to give you many opportunities to hone your philosophical skills in a friendly environment. We will focus on three: i) giving 10-15 minute presentations, ii) presenting someone else’s position clearly in 1000 words and iii) outlining a philosophy paper in which you argue for a thesis of your own (a series of bullet points covering at most two sides.) Each week, up to and including November 11th, you will have to do one of these, based on the reading for that week. We will set up a rotating schedule. (That’s 10 weeks, and we’ll have 2 presentations each week, so you will end up doing a total of 4 presentations, 2 expository papers and 2 outlines.) There will be no final paper or exam for this class.

Your grade for the class will be calculated by averaging your best three presentations (40%), your best expository paper (30%) and best outline (30%) i.e. your worst grade for each type of assignment will be dropped.



Any cases of suspected plagiarism, or other problems with academic integrity, will be reported to Dean Killen in his role as head of the academic integrity committee.

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